Take your skelletons out of the closet…

Maybe it’s time to take your skeletons out of the closet and into your art?

Art shouldn’t have to be all pretty and cute. It’ can’t be. You’ll discover that when you make art every day you will need to mix things up and try new things, experiment with your hidden feelings too. On bad days I make ugly tired doodles. And on some days I feel like skulls and skeletons, death and disaster. Two of my “ugly” daily art cards got quite a few comment at flickr, and that got my attention. I looked at them again and thought about what they portrait. Maybe we all need to get ugly a bit more in our creations?

Who's morbid - a daily art card collage by iHanna
Morbid. Daily Art Card made May 20. Collage by iHanna.

Why not bring out your journal and paint a page black? Do some really angry marks on top of that. Or write other words than play, create, smile. Write about death, rage and panic attacks. Write about your fears, your troubles, your pain, your loss, your heartache. I use my diary to write down everything in my life, and it is filled with whining. Sometimes my pages are unreadable or painful to view but I’m always happier after I wrote them. I hope you’re not keeping a journal to impress others with your pretty wonderful life? Everyone has bad days, and art can help.

Canceled flight - Daily Art Card 2008-05-23 made by iHanna
Canceled flight. Art Card made from May 23. Collage by iHanna

I hope you’re not making your art pretty because you don’t know ugly? I hope you don’t fear the ugliness of your true feelings? Ugly needs to come out and play too, even though Ugly is an ugly play mate. Ugly will pinch your chin, laugh in your face and smirk when you try to hide. But once you let ugly into your Art you’ll maybe end up with something else inside of your head? Let it out of you and let the healing begin.

Try it!

17 Responses

  1. Hello Hanna. You have the most amazingly inspirational blog and I have just spent ages looking through the archives – lots more to go yet. I love your art and craft, and also your style and attitude and humour. Will put you on my blogroll to visit regularly. Keep up the lovely inspiration.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. It’s important for us to delve deeper in our creativity. To be real and honest; to explore some of the dark and ugly things. I’m not sure this is a popular trend or idea, but it is important to give our feelings and experiences (positive and negative) a voice, or in this case a journal page!

    Reading your post, I am reminded of this passage I read in a book this morning:

    “There is a form of creativity that reaches for the stars and is sunny and bright, but there is another kind, just as fruitful, that is dark and deep, more hidden than visible, motivated sometimes by anger and envy. This deep source of the creative spirit is difficult to express in our world because we have difficulty appreciating the positive qualities of the dark emotions. But they give a person depth, strength of character, and an earthy honesty and counter any tendency toward the sentimental and the naive.” (Thomas Moore, A Life at Work).

    This is obviously something I’m passionate about! Hee hee! :)

  3. Well, ugly is the opposite of pretty, so they both has to cooperate together somehow. It’s good that our perception of what is ugly and what is pretty is very relative! *^v^*

  4. This is a great post. I especially agree with you’re saying that one shouldn’t worry about impressing others with our sketches; I think that is one of the worst distractions from just playing, doing and growing.

  5. Lovely cards! I tend to have the opposite problem – I’m always reaching for the skulls & black paint, and have to remind myself occasionally it’s ok to make a ‘pretty’ page, and I like bunnies too:)

  6. Wow, what an important posting. Your cards are great, and what you say is so important. I think I always try to make pretty, and right now I’m at a difficult/ugly time, I should try to take out my skeletons too! Thanks!

  7. Jag har funderat en del p? just att plocka fram sina gamla skelett ur garderoben och “m?la bort dem”. Kanske kan man l?mna vissa otrevliga tankar/minnen om de finns p? papper, bearbetade? Jag vet inte vad som fungerar b?st. Den senaste tiden har jag ist?llet jobbat i motsatt riktning. Jag tror mycket p? tankens kraft och har f?rs?kt m?la och omge mig med positiva bilder, f?r att p? s? s?tt t?nka positiva tankar. I vanliga falls dras jag l?tt till det dystra och negativa och det vill jag ?ndra p?. Jag vill vara en GLAD konstn?r!

    Jag hoppas det ?r ok att jag skriver p? svenska. Det ?r l?ttare att uttrycka sig d? men jag kan skriva p? engelska om du f?redrar det (med risk f?r vissa felskrivningar!). S?g bara till.

  8. How true. I just got done reading 100 Demons by Lynda Barry. It is not beautiful, but so real and transparent.

  9. Girls, thanks for your lovely comments!

    Thank you for the quote, I think it is so true and I’m passioned about this subject too. I guess it is a take on art. Are you making the world pretty or discovering the world with your art? I’m all about the later! :-)

    in this post I was not talking about ugly as the opposite of pretty, but more about the ugly as the bad, horrible, scary and dark in our life and inside our brain. The opposite to that kind of ugly is something calm and happy I guess. I was talking about how to let those feeling out in our art in any way that is meaningful to you.

    Totally, if you feel that you will share every page of your art journal, how can it then be a journal, that’s what I think. It will be something else, something official or you are one brave girl! :-)

    Haha, is it a problem really? I think what I was saying is that I think more of use could not only explore the “darker sides” but that we need to see more of this kind of art now! Maybe I’m tired of the butterflies? I think it’s great that you have found imagery that you like to play with!

    Elin, it’s fine writing in Swedish to me, I’m just so happy that you take the time to comment and share your thoughts! Thank you! Jag tror p? balans. Ibland beh?ver man t?nka positivt och g? fram?t, ibland beh?ver man t?nka ?ver det som ?r jobbigt och bearbeta det b?de i prat, text och bild. Allt har sin tid.

  10. Thanks for that post, Hanna. It is very nice that you are encouraging people to be real, and I find that you life this out as well… your creations are always very real, and I feel that you strive to make your life and crafts reflect your feelings. I think that this rawness is a big part of art, and how it can be so restorative. Art has helped me the most when I have created pictures of what I felt inside me.. and often it was not pretty, but it was my expression, and it helped me more than I can say. Thanks Hanna :o)

  11. ” I use my diary to write everything and sometimes my pages are unreable but still, I?m glad I made them. I hope you?re not keeping that journal of yours to impress others? ”

    Those two lines right there made me think. I just kind of sat there and thought for a bit and I was like, wow, that’s very true.

    So therefore I am making a page in my art journal with your quote :D I hope that’s quite alright with you, haha. You are such an inspiration!!

    As a college student – I’m only 19, turning 20 soon – I feel like a lot of the people I am surrounded by don’t understand the true meaning of creativity and finding beauty in art and the little things in life…I know so many people who indulge in such superficial things. Your blog is such a great getaway from all of that. It definitely inspires me to go on with my art journal, and find a way to represent myself through my artwork, instead of expensive bags and clothing.

    Anyway, much love from New York. Hope all is well!!

  12. Thanks for your comment!

    Gail, I’m glad and honored that you will use a quote from me in your journal (even though I have no idea what the word unreable came from, hehe)! I think it is so cool that you turning 20 is finding this out already. I’m 32 and I’m just in the past years understanding this a bit more!

    Take care in New York and stay creative!

  13. oh yes, the dark side! We all have one–glass half empty, or half full? Answer: BOTH!
    Bravo–love the skull with that eyeball poking out.

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